Duke providing new video tonight to give us an inside look at those vaccine preps.
“It’s kind of that light at the end of the tunnel.”— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) December 5, 2020
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An inside look at Duke University Hospital’s preparations for the arrival of first doses of COVID-19 vaccine for doctors and nurses this month. #abc11 pic.twitter.com/lckPoMH6V5
When Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrives at Duke Hospital it will be stored in this ultra-cold freezer, capable of maintaining the necessary -70 degrees Celsius temperatures. As soon as the vials are removed from the freezer, the clocks starts ticking -- as the vaccine can begin to degrade.
That's where this conference room behind the hospital comes in. It's where Duke will deliver the vaccine to hospital staffers immediately after the vials leave the freezer. On the opposite side of the room is where people will wait and be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes; observed for any adverse side-effects of the vaccine.
Duke is using this conference room behind the hospital as its vaccination center for staff. #abc11— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) December 5, 2020
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“It’s quite a large undertaking. We’ll be looking to vaccinate about 5,000 employees in what we consider the Phase 1-A grouping.” pic.twitter.com/ftz2RJ0Yeb
"We're hoping that we are going to vaccinate all of our staff," Duke's Director of Emergency Preparedness Jason Zivica.
In the first round of vaccinations, 5,000 frontline workers will be inoculated here in what's called the Phase 1-A grouping.
"These are individuals we have identified in our organization that have prolonged contact with high-risk patients, whether that's already-known positive patients or potentially positive patients that we see in our emergency department," Zivica said.
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When will the vaccines arrive at Duke?
The Food and Drug Administration is moving toward completing "emergency use authorization" of the vaccine as early as the Tuesday after next. NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said her office estimates the earliest shots could start going into arms is December 15.
"December 15 is on the calendar," Zivica said. "We'll be ready."
As COVID-19 cases surge again, Duke sees getting the vaccine to its frontline workers first as the best way to ensure the staff stays healthy to deliver critical care to a growing number of patients inside its COVID units. The hospital pledges to eventually vaccinate everyone from surgeons to service staff
"It's challenging now to try and go through and decide who's going to get it and who's not. We want to be fair and equitable to all of our employees," Zivica said.
It's been an exhausting fight. Duke tweeted a picture, Friday night, as nursing staff celebrated the 1000th discharged COVID-19 patient.
Today, we celebrated Mohamed Shehata, our 1000th discharged COVID-19 patient. "Everybody did a great job. I'm really happy to get out." Happy endings like this give our #HealthcareHeroes hope and the strength to continue their work during this marathon. #ThankYouDukeHealth pic.twitter.com/n3d6HxO4TS— Duke University Hospital (@DukeHospital) December 5, 2020
Zivica said the vaccine's looming arrival at the hospital is seen as some light at the end of a very long tunnel.